We have finally arrived at the week for the reopening of the school after a historic closure. My hope is that we will remain open for the duration of the school year.
We continue to receive bulletins from the Department of Education in relation to protocols that will be expected when we return to school. These have not all been finalised as of yet, for example, we are awaiting advice on what will happen if there is a suspected case (or a confirmed case) of COVID 19 in the school and information on adaptations to courses of study.
Based on what we do know and have been instructed by the DES the following changes will be in place in school:
• There will be a one way system around the school
• There will in all likelihood be staggered breaks and start times
• Students will only be allowed very limited access to lockers
• Parents have suggested that students remain on school grounds for the duration of the school day. This needs to be discussed at staff level
• There will be an expectation on all members of the school community to abide with the latest health recommendations in relation to COVID 19. Please ensure good hygiene and health related etiquette is practised at home as it will then be habit when the students return to school.
• Students will need to wear face masks during class. This may necessitate changes of masks during the day. We will have some masks in school which will be allocated to students in the case they genuinely forget their own mask.
• Students will be classroom based. They will need to leave their books at their desks. Therefore they will need a container to store their stuff.
• Disposable bottles will not be allowed. It would be unjust to expect staff to dispose of bottles that have been in other people’s mouths. Similarly students will be expected to take their lunch to school in a container and take their waste home with them for disposal. They have all done this in primary school, so it should not present a problem. Gum is not allowed in school under any circumstance. This has been in force for many years, but in moving the furniture there was hardly a desk that hadn’t a piece of used gum stuck to it.
The DES has provided COVID funding to the school. This has been allocated to the purchase of PPE and sanitation equipment, the provision of extra supervision and a small allocation to the teaching staff. The school has made a substantial investment in ICT equipment to help get us over the period of the pandemic. Our computer room has little or no ventilation, so we have purchased a trolley of computers to move from class to class where needed. We have also purchased devices for teachers to assist their efforts in providing for the best learning and teaching possible. In the event the school needs to close (hopefully not), classes will continue and students will be expected to log on to them.
We have needed to change the use of areas in the school to have sufficient space to “safely” teach students. There will be signage and floor markings in place to help students maintain the appropriate distances.
The DES is in discussion with the NCCA and the SEC with regards to how next year’s examinations and assessments will proceed. As soon as this information becomes available it will be available to teachers and students.
With regard to the return of students over the next two weeks please note the following:
• All students are expected to be in full uniform, with the correct shoes etc.
• We have been informed that buses will run from 01/09/20
• The school canteen will not be opened until the week starting 08/09/20
• First Years will be in on Friday from 09.00hrs to be collected at 13.00hrs. They will not be expected to return to school until Wednesday 02/09/20 for a full school day. In the event there will be staggered start times you will be informed later in the week.
• Fifth Years will be expected to return on Monday for a half day (collection at 13.00hrs) . They will not be expected to return to school until Wednesday 02/09/20 for a full school day
• Third and Sixth Years will be expected to return on Tuesday 01/09/20 from 09.00hrs until 13.00hrs.
• Second Years will be expected to return on Tuesday 01/09/20 from 13.30hrs until 16.00hrs.
• Transition Years will return on Thursday 03/09/20, but will be expected to have attended work experience (or be seeking work experience) on the previous day.
• Leaving Certificate will issue in the coming weeks, with students not allowed to collect them in school. They will be available on line. The issue date will be 07/09/20 with CAO places being offered soon afterwards. Ms. O’Keeffe will be available to students in the event they require assistance.
I hope and pray that we will have a safe and happy return to school, and that it will remain open. We are all learning about the change in our lives. I thank you for your patience.